Bag Ban Blocked 

Plastic bags can flow freely, thanks to state lawmakers.

The Memphis City Council voted 6-5 against a plastic bag ban last week, but even if approved, the measure might not have been implemented right away.

City officials would not have been able to enforce the ban without state approval, even if the council okayed it, said council attorney Allan Wade. A recently passed state law prohibits local governments from regulating the "use, disposition, or sale of an auxiliary container."

click to enlarge flyby_bag_ban_blocked.jpg

"It may not go anywhere, it may go somewhere, but right now all you can do is advance the ball down the road, get it enacted, and try to get it implemented," Wade told the council before the vote. "You can't take a step without taking a step."

Councilman Berlin Boyd, who sponsored the legislation, along with chairman Kemp Conrad, said if the council had voted favorably for the ordinance, it would have "given us the leverage to negotiate on a state level."

"We will not implement anything," Boyd said before the vote. "We can't implement anything. We can't mandate anything because of the state law. The only failures in life are failures of not trying. ... This is just an effort for us to try to do something different in the state of Tennessee."

Councilman Worth Morgan, who voiced opposition to the ban in a previous council meeting, abstained from the vote last week. He said later that the ban "has merit, but to move forward without a clear legal strategy is a waste of time and resources." He said the council has "a lot of achievable work to focus on."

Councilwoman Cheyenne Johnson, who voted against the measure, said the ordinance would not have had a direct impact and that it would only be "symbolic of the need for plastic bag reformation.

"I began hoping for a gentler, proactive resolution — a resolution that would encourage merchants to accelerate their efforts with providing alternatives to these bags and/or promoting a city-wide plastic bag recycle campaign," Johnson said.

The ban would have prohibited the distribution of single-use plastic checkout bags in retail establishments with 2,000 square feet or more. Each violation of the ordinance would have resulted in a $50 fine.

Boyd, who first brought forth the idea of plastic bag regulation in November, said the goal of the ban would be to protect the environment and reduce overall waste, citing plastic-bag-riddled streets, waterways, and trees.

Scott Banbury, Tennessee conservation programs coordinator for the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club, said the use of single-use plastic bags has "obvious impacts on the environment."

"It's a problem that really needs to be addressed," Banbury said. "The whole goal here is to ask people to reuse bags. It doesn't seem like a huge thing to ask. Just for convenience's sake, people are willing to cause so much harm to the environment."

Banbury said the state legislation prohibiting a ban on plastic bags is a "matter of local control. Why shouldn't we be able to address our own problems, and who is Nashville to say we can't?"

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.




Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


The Latest

Hungry Memphis

Father Ben Bradshaw's 'Soul Food' — Food for Body and Soul

The Rant

It’s Time To Let Low-Level Offenders Out of Jail

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Better Call Saul Puts on a TV Masterclass

News Blog

Fund Set Up For Laid Off Hospitality Workers

Music Blog

Listen Up: The Harbert House Band

Politics Beat Blog

Lee Firms Up Previous Order, Makes 'Stay-at-Home' Mandatory


Readers also liked…

  • Birthing a Center

    Choices re-claims feminist health care with new site.
    • Sep 6, 2018
© 1996-2020

Contemporary Media
65 Union, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation